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State considers creating 'majority minority' congressional district

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One redistricting proposal offered by the group United for Fair Representation, which is dedicated to "fair redistricting and representation of people of color."

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kplu/local-kplu-981392.mp3

Tonight is your last chance to weigh in on which communities will be included in the state’s congressional districts before commissioners start drafting their proposals. The public is invited to share their thoughts at a forum tonight in South Seattle.

Washington will gain a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 and it’s up to the state to decide where to put the new district.

One idea is to combine Southeast Seattle and South King County, where the population of people of color has skyrocketed.  

George Cheung, executive director of Win/Win Network, a group that tries to build civic engagement in underrepresented communities, says since people of color are responsible for most of the state's growth, it's only fair to give them more political representation:

“I think this provides a unique opportunity to make sure that the voices of folks of color are really included," he says. "It’s really important to have someone who lives in that community truly representing those interests.”

He says while several different groups live in the region, they have common experiences, such as difficulties with education and healthcare.  “Shared interests” are one of the criteria used to create a congressional district.

Commissioners also must:

  • Keep cities whole whenever possible
  • Avoid giving preference to any political parties or groups
  • Comply with the Voting Rights Act to ensure that minorities have an equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choice.

Overall, their job is to make sure each district has the same number of people. 
They’re scheduled to finish up by the end of the year. 

Forum Details:

  • Time: Tuesday, Aug. 9, 6:00 p.m.
  • Location: New Holly Gathering Hall
  • Address: 7054 32nd Ave. S., in Seattle
Charla joined us in January, 2010 and is excited to be back in Seattle after several years in Washington, DC, where she was a director and producer for NPR. Charla has reported from three continents and several outlets including Marketplace, San Francisco Chronicle and NPR. She has a master of journalism from University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor's degree in architecture from University of Washington.
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